Theme 3: Land struggles: from grassroots mobilisation to legal victories, what strategies?

The third thematic discussion of the Forum of Struggles for Land and Natural Resources took place from March 17 to April 7, 2022. (Re-)watch the opening and closing videoconferences in the "Videoconferencesbelow, and contribute further to this theme in the "Discussion" tab.Discussion" !

There is no need to register. This videoconference will be simultaneously translated into 4 languages: French/English/Spanish and Portuguese.

In recent decades, the European continent has been subjected to a series of factors that have led to the industrialisation of the agricultural system and the commodification of its fundamental component: land, which is considered to be a commodity like any other. In Europe, we are facing two major threats to agricultural land: artificialisation, under the pressure of urbanisation and infrastructure projects; and land grabbing favoured by the enlargement and financialisation of structures, as well as speculation on land prices. The European Union (EU) still does not have a land policy as such. It is the Member States who, at national level, define their own land and landscape policy.

At the national level, land transactions are regulated according to the principle of free movement of persons, goods, services and capital. Attempts to regulate the land market can therefore be hampered by this principle defended by the EU. Yet there is an urgent need to act. Europe is the continent that has lost the most farmers in the last forty years. Land is a common good, worked by farmers to produce food for all. Its preservation and distribution are a major social issue.

European farmers' organisations have constantly mobilised in favour of a fair land policy, promoting access to the use of agricultural land to maintain a European peasantry. There are many examples of mobilisation, and many victories too. However, the trend towards the disappearance of peasants and agricultural land is not abating, due to the lack of legal support for land regulation. Faced with this situation, various EU institutions have taken up the issue, recognising the threat that this legal vacuum poses to the maintenance of peasant farming in Europe. These institutions then asked the European Commission (the most powerful institution in the EU) to create a legal framework for agricultural land, but this proposal had so far remained a dead letter.

This discussion will draw on the experience of the European Coordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC) and its allies. It will present protest mobilisations on the ground to defend and promote an alternative model of governance outside the institutional framework.

But it will also build on its EU-wide mobilisation for a European directive for the governance of agricultural land. A directive is the most powerful legal instrument in the EU. The fundamental objective of ECVC is the implementation of Article 17 of UNDROP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Rural People to Land) as well as the implementation of the VGGT (Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests) at EU level.

Purpose of this discussion

The aim is to present the strategies of European peasant mobilisations in their aspiration for a governance of land that considers agricultural land not as a commodity but as a common good. It is also about presenting how field mobilisations have led to victories in order to place the land issue at the centre of the debate on agricultural policies, and to show how the European peasant movement is becoming a force for legal proposals, thus walking on its own two legs.

If mobilisations on the ground are necessary, they seem to go hand in hand with the construction of an advocacy in order to maintain or create effective regulation tools.

Theme 3: Timeline

  • March 17: Launch videoconference
  • March 18-April 06: online exchanges and discussions.
  • April 07: Closing video conference.
  • May 2022: Videos of the videoconferences and summary documents available on the website